Being Second Place
1. When I was in high school I loved running track and cross-country. They were both very challenging and exciting for me but there is a little secret that I have to share with you about those days, I did not like to loose. I did everything that I could to make myself better than my opponent. I put in extra miles, extra hills, extra sprints, and lifted just a little bit longer all so I could win.
The only problem was that between my Sophmore and Junior years in high school we had a boy on the team that was an excellent runner. He made it state each year and he blew me away every single race. Two years I was a number two runner or below and finally my senior year I was able to be the number one runner.
2. I suppose that I am still a little competitive and I still like to win. Being second place just does not have the same appeal to me as being first. And as we learned last week God feels the same way.
3. In Exodus 20:1-3 God has commanded us “PUT HIM FIRST” because he does not like to be in second place.
4. Therefore before anything else, first and foremost we must put God first in our lives.
5. But God takes this covenant a little bit further in the next few verses and deals with the issue of idol worship. This is found in Exodus 20:4-6.
6. Exodus 20:4-6 – “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
B. Getting it Straight
1. Last week I discussed this issue of idol worship and if you recall I stated that an idol was anything that takes over the time, energy, finances, or love that you would have given God.
2. The reason why I remind you of this is because of the fact that usually we believe that an idol has to be a statue such as a golden calf, a giant statue of a king, a tower, or a pole erected in the name of another god.
3. But that is not what the scripture states. Take a second and read verse 4 carefully. It state that “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.”
4. Do you see that word idol? It does not say statue, it says idol. God realizes that we are all human and that our minds can get a little crowded and confused during our lifetime. It is during these times that we tend to stray away from God and start allowing idols to control our lives.
5. Sometimes we get greedy and want more money or more stocks and bonds. Sometimes we get busy with work and family and time slips away from us. Sometimes we look for the easiest way to make a buck and get lazy.
6. All of these things have the potential to take our attention away from God if we allow these things to run our lives.
7. God reminds us in this second commandment that we are not only to put him first but we need to worship him alone and not other.
8. No matter how beautiful someone is, how wealthy someone is, or how powerful someone is, they will never be able to give you what God can give you.
9. God wants us to know who is first in our lives and who should always be first. He wants us to get it straight and worship Him alone.
C. Who Do You Serve
1. In verse 5 God states the meaning of this commandment. He lays it all out on the table and states that if the Israelites worship any other god or idol then they do not worship him.
2. He even makes the point that if you worship idols then you hate Him.
3. In this passage we are posed with a question that all humanity is faced to ask themselves, “Are you with God or against Him?”
4. All humanity is forced to take a side. The question is “Who do you serve?”
5. In one of the greatest sermons of all time Jesus delivered a simple but yet powerful statement for all the world to hear.
6. This statement comes to us in Matthew 6:24 - “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and wealth. (Object of worship)
7. Jesus puts it all out there in this one statement, you are either for God or you are against Him. There is no in between.
8. The Greek word for wealth is mamona. This word means that something is used as an object of worship.
9. That means that the issue Jesus is talking about goes much deeper than money or wealth. The issue is with anything else that you worship.
10. You must choose sides.
D. The Result of Your Service
1. Verse 5 also gives us a little insight into the personality of God.
2. We are told that God is loving, kind, gentle, fair, and just. That is right God is a just God not an adjustable God.
3. God is the creator of the universe, the creator of all things and He is also a JEALOUS God.
4. He has already told the people that they are to put Him first and foremost and under no circumstances is He going to put up with rivalry.
5. He will not beg for your attention nor will he offer you bribes to come and worship him. His offer is simple, you either accept Him or you don’t.
6. Those that decide not accept this covenant given to them by God will be considered people that hate God.
7. God will see to it that the people who break this covenant are punished and that their children and their children’s children will feel the wrath of God.
8. But he will bless and show loving kindness to those that love him and that keep his commandments.
9. I do not know of any one person that is here today that has been able to keep all of God’s commandments. We all fall short of the glory of God and it is true that we can not save ourselves by our own means.
10. What makes this covenant with us different than the one made with the Israelites is the fact that we have something that they did not have.
11. We have the gift of God’s only son.
12. In a letter that Paul sent to the church in Rome he reminds us of a specific fact that he is certain of.
13. Romans 8:38-39 - For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
14. Christ died to free us from sin. His blood washes our sin away when we accept him as our Savior.
15. There is nothing that can ever separate us from the love of Christ but sometimes we do not welcome that love and do not accept it.
1. The commandment that God gave the Israelites still applies to us today. He still wants us to put Him first and he still wants us to worship him alone.
2. But most of all he wants us to accept that covenant with him. He wants us to take advantage of that free gift of the Holy Spirit that the Israelites did not have the same opportunity to receive.
3. What choice will you make today?